November 12 , 2013
IQ:Asmart History of a Failed Idea
Chapter 1 – The Problem with testing
IQ tests are used on children to determine whether they would get into to top Ivy League schools. But its
not until the age of sixteen is where the IQ is more stable.
Chapter 2 – The Origins of Testing
Francis Galton – famous polymath, who liked to measure and count things, contributed to many tools,
definitions and constructs of psychology.
After reading his cousins, Charles Darwin’s, On the Origin of Species, Galton wanted to analyze human
mental abilities in terms of evolution and improve the human race.
He believed that that mental ability was inherited from family and that society is structured naturally. For
him, women, blacks and the lower classes occupied inferior positions because of their lack of innate talent.
He applied the idea of natural selection to human breeding.
Eugenics - the science of improving a population by controlled breeding to increase the
occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics.
Nowadays can be seen as a way to favour murder and sterilization.
Galton said there needed to be a test that would be conducted on established principles. He wanted to get
the people that scored well on the tests to get married together.
Galton’s science became negative bc he would say that charity is unproductive and a waste of resources bc
these people are already “dumb”.
He was interested in how abilities were distributed among people, which he assumed was the result of
genetics, not error.
Galton was able to develop the idea of the correlation coefficient but his statistical inventions also proved
that physiological tests had nothing to do with success.
James Cattell worked on Galton’s beliefs to create tests.
Psychology had slowly become a way to solve societal problems and deal with people on an individual
basis rather than phrenologists.
Psychologists claimed that they had mental tests that could help sort out people in a industrialized society.
Then they began to question if the mental exam were helpful. Then they began to question the usefulness of
mental tests based on physical tasks. After years of research he asked Wissler to study the correlation
between mental tests and academic performance, but there were no correlations.
Chapter 3 – The Birth of Modern Intelligence Tests
Alfred Binet saved intelligence tests
Used his daughters as to measure their capabilities and differences. Eg. Reaction time, hand movements
He compared his daughters data to adults and found out that they could perform the same tasks just as well
as the adults and when children concentrated response times were often same as adults. This led to the
belief that the key difference between children and adults was the ability to concentrate and attention was
key to the development of intelligence.
This was a big deal bc he was thinking about the higher mental processes behind physical tasks.
If children could score same sensory acuity and reaction time tests as adults, then physiological tests aimed
at measuring mental ability were misdirected.
IQ tests were now focused on higher reasoning and more cognitive abilities as opposed to physical.
France changed education systems, Binet was appointed commissioner to create a test to help teachers
define who were normal and subnormal children. He separated the two and discovered that the groups
performances overlapped so then decided to take the child age in account. th
November 12 , 2013
In the first 1905 test, Binet and Simon made thirty questions that increased in difficulty.
Levels of retardation:
Charles Spearman bound eugenics theory to Binet’s testing approach.
Discovered statistical relationships between various intellectual abilities
He said that there is something called general intelligence that operates everyone when thinking is required.
(g- general intelligence)
Aperson’s level of g affects everything they do.
G was more important in some activities than in others, such as Classics but playing soccer was more
Spearman said the best way to test g was to measure a large number of different abilities and pool results
together. The average would measure people’s g.
After Spearman’s theory was published, Binet and Simon provided a test which measured thinking rather
than sensory acuity. Thanks to Spearman, this singular, innate intelligence dominated psychology.
Chapter 4 –America Discovers Intelligence Tests
Goddard – psychology researcher worked at a feeble minded school.
He measured the kids based on sensory acuity but he came into the problem that he had nothing to compare
his results to, so he asked the teachers at the school to assess them and over the years, the measurements
did not match Goddard’s at all.
Goddard went to Europe to see what they might have discovered but he couldn’t find anything and he even
discovered that they had less school for the feeble minded.
He didn’t go to Binet’s lab bc people told him it was a myth. Even though Binet had the best tests around
but he ruined his reputation bc he had such strong views.
Goddard discovered Binet’s test on a single page from an unknown Belgian.
He took this back with him to New Jersey. He gave the tests to the students after translating and compared
the results with the teacher’s assessments to find great results
The difference between Binet and Goddard was that Binet didn’t believe in a fixed intelligence while
Goddard approached doctors for the feeble minded and convinced the doctors to approach this analytical
testing and became a big things for psychologists, to study the “retarded”. The test had been implemented
to categorize the mentally disabled was passed from doctors to psychologists.
In the early 20 century, people would link intelligence with moral agency, retarded people were more
likely to commit crime.As result idiot school became more important as instruments of protection from the
Goddard and Kite(his employee) believed that social standing was a sufficient tool to scientifically measure
intelligence. Studying the Kallikak family they discovered that even after six generations, there was feeble-
minded members everywhere. He focused on Deborah Kallikak and concluded that society should be more
concerned with the “morons”, the highest for of unintelligence, and that we should isolate them to prevent
from spreading the “moron” gene.
Goddard needed to get the tests into schools.
3 reasons why schools grew rapidly
1. mandatory universal education laws; more high school students
2. people were moving from countryside to work in the cit